Dr David Martyn Lloyd-Jones Brings Doctrine with Passion

Dr David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in Wales, on December 20, 1899, to be one of three boys in a Welsh Calvanist Methodist family.

When he was ten a fire destroyed the family home and permanently impacted the family finances. This gave young David a serious approach to life, such that he said, “I never had an adolescence”.

In his village of Llangeitho he and his brothers joined the local church, under instruction from their minister. But David did not have a living faith.

In 1916 he went to London to study medicine and excelled, heading for a prosperous careers as a Harley Street medical specialist. In London he attended Charing Cross Chapel, where he met his wife to be. Lloyd-Jones also began to investigate what true Christianity was, discovering that he had not really been a Christian at all. In an undramatic process of study David came to a genuine faith, but lamented that no-one had ever made the gospel plain to him.

The reality of his faith led him, at the age of 27 to give up his promising career as a Harley Street specialist, and with his young wife, Bethan, return to the land of his fathers. And there, in South Wales, he entered the Christian ministry, in a small Calvinistic Methodist Church, in Sandfields, Aberavon.

He preached his first sermon on 28 November, 1926. His text on that occasion was I Corinthians 2:2 – “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Influenced by Puritan writers whom he had consumed, yet without formal theological training, the fresh young minister determined to preach only the Bible and to do it so clearly that it would bring life to those who heard him. This fresh and Biblical approach stood out in his day and won him an audience around Wales, Great Britain and America and Canada.

On November 28, 1935 “The Doctor” (as he came to be known) preached in London’s Albert Hall and was heard by G Morgan Campbell, the 72 year old pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel. Campbell invited Lloyd-Jones to be his assistant and successor, which, after some deliberation, The Doctor accepted in September 1938, taking his wife and two daughters to live in London.

G. Campbell Morgan retired in 1943 and Lloyd-Jones soon established Westminster Chapel as the “foremost evangelical pulpit in England.”

For the last 20 years of his ministry at Westminster Chapel the average Sunday attendance was 1,500 in the morning and 2,000 at night.

Verse by verse he traversed the great books of Scripture, delivering 60 sermons on “The Sermon on the Mount”, preaching for 13 years on Romans chapters 1-14. His six volumes of printed sermons on Ephesians total 2,235 pages.

His challenge to evangelicals to separate from the mainline churches in 1966 brought the wrath of some fellow evangelicals upon his head. But by pen and from pulpit Martyn Lloyd-Jones continued to “contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.”

Some have called him the greatest preacher of the 20th century, but he also supported many other Christian projects, such as the Evangelical Library, Inter Varsity Fellowship, Puritan Conference, ‘Banner of Truth’ Publishing and The Evangelical Magazine.

He preached his last sermon on June 8, 1980 and went home to the Lord on March 1, 1981.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

George Campbell Morgan as the Old Preacher at Westminster Chapel

george George Campbell Morgan was born in Gloucestershire, England, on December 9, 1863.

He was to become – to quote Warren Wiersbe – “perhaps the greatest Bible teacher of his day in the English-speaking world,” despite the fact that his trial sermon for the Methodist ministry (on 2 May, 1888) was a disaster and they knocked him back!

Morgan, who was a schoolmaster before his ordination, had a tall imposing presence and an ideal speaking voice, which assisted him in his preaching and teaching gifts. He persisted with his intention to preach effectively and proved himself vastly superior to the original assessment of 1888.

He travelled to the United States where he worked closely with D.L Moody and his son William in their evangelistic work.

Meanwhile, in London, the large and famous Congregationalist Westminster Chapel, had become a white elephant. No-one was interested in filling the pulpit and plans were discussed to sell the building and establish multiple smaller buildings.

Morgan accepted the invitation, thus saving the chapel from extinction. His life-long friend, the Reverend Albert Swift, came with him as co-pastor. With a good team around him, Morgan quickly built up a strong following and a remarkable ministry, from 1904 to 1917.

Morgan suffered a debilitating illness in early 1917 and, to the dismay of the congregation, announced his resignation.

In 1933 Morgan returned to England to attend a conference and the then minister at Westminster Chapel, Dr Hubert Simpson, approached him about sharing the pastorate. Simpson’s health was a problem and so he sought to share the workload.

The new partnership began but Simpson soon had to retire, leaving Morgan at the helm once again, at the age of 70. Morgan realised that a second pastorate in the same church was problematic, so he addressed that with the church. Second time around the church did not engage in as much social activity, consistent with most other evangelical churches.

Once again Morgan drew a large congregation, so renovations were undertaken. But the physical strain took its toll. It is seen as inspiration that Morgan chose a young Welsh preacher to assist him, and in 1943 he handed the church over to the very able Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The writings of Campbell Morgan are still in print. His biography, A Man of the Word, was written by his daughter. Many others have written about his illustrious career.

He went to his heavenly home on 16 May, 1945. At the memorial service in Westminster Chapel, Dr Lloyd-Jones, a Calvinist, said of his predecessor, an Arminian: “We differed theologically, but we never discussed that; we believed in the same final authority of this Book. If one of us was a little bit Calvinistic in his preaching, the other was also Calvinistic in his praying! So we never quarrelled at all, and we just said nothing more about it” (David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Volume Two, by Iain Murray, page 133).

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield as a Prince at Princeton

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (BBW) was born near Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.A., on November 5th, 1851.

His early life on the farm left him with a life-long passion for farming and especially horses, and became a leading world authority on short-horn cattle.

He graduated from Princeton University “with highest honours” in 1871. The following year, at age 21, he acknowledged the claim of Christ on his life and entered Princeton Seminary to prepare for the ministry.

Warfield graduated in 1876 and married Annie Kinkead. He was studying in Leipzig and so the couple honeymooned in Germany. While walking in the Harz Mountains the pair were caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Some say that Annie “was struck by lightning and permanently paralysed” (Great Leaders of the Christian Church, Moody Press, page 344).

Whether that is the case or not, she was traumatised from the experience and never recovered, being an invalid for the rest of her life, needing Warfield’s constant care. For the next 39 years Warfield “seldom left home for more than two hours at a time”.

He became Professor of New Testament at a Presbyterian college, and in 1887 he succeeded A.A.Hodge as a Professor of Theology at Princeton and kept that post until his death 33 years later. He also edited the Presbyterian Review.

In the 1920’s ten volumes of his larger collected writings were published, and in the 1960’s two volumes of his shorter writings were also published. Those books and volumes of his sermons are in print today and are read more widely than in his life-time.

His book, Counter Miracles (1918), was a strong defence of the cessationist viewpoint.

His Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (1948) “asserted that verbal inspiration had been perfect in the original manuscripts” (Dictionary of Religious Biography, page 492).

His writings in defence of Calvinism are also worthy of mention.

He was an excellent lecturer, using a Socratic dialogue quiz style to prompt his students to examine the subject at hand. His writings were described by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “His mind was so clear and his literary style so chaste and lucid that it is a real joy to read his works and one derives pleasure and profit at the same time.”

Warfield preached vividly. Once he illustrated the difference between fate and providence with a story of a Dutch boy who disobeyed his father and played near a windmill. Going too close he suddenly found himself picked up from the ground hanging upside down as a series of blows were rained upon him. What horror, caught in the machine! He thought his end had come. But when he opened his eyes he discovered the windmill’s sail that had taken him up but his own father had. He was receiving the threatened punishment for his own disobedience. He wept, not with pain but with relief and joy. He now new the difference between falling into a machine and into the loving hands of a father. That is the difference between fate and predestination.

On Christmas Eve, 1920, Professor BBW suffered a stroke – he recovered enough to resume his classes on 16 February, 1921, but died that night as a result of a further stroke.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.